Hugo Category Highlights – The Finalists – Best Editor, Short Form and Long Form

Best Editor – Short Form

There’s been a healthy rise in nomination ballots cast here: from 870 in 2015 to 1891 this year. It’s something of a shame I don’t find the contenders all that inspiring. I’m hoping I’m just a bit on the jaded side and it’s not actually a symptom of a rather poor selection.

John Joseph Adams – My complete lack of enthusiasm here could be because instead of getting to see at least one issue of Lightspeed as compiled by the editor, Mr Adams chose to provide a selection of his personal choices from the magazine. They weren’t to my taste – well written, certainly, but unsatisfying. I don’t know if the sense that there wasn’t any there there for me to miss is me being tired and jaded or if it’s accurate. Do make sure to read it yourself and draw your own conclusions.

Neil Clarke – The issue of Clarkesworld Mr Clarke provided suffered from the same problems I had with Mr Adams choices: they were all well written, but they simply didn’t reach me in any way.

Ellen Datlow – Ms Datlow provided links to a number of the pieces she edited as well as the names of some of her anthologies. The stories once again hit me as, well, rather empty. Very well done, certainly, but empty.

Jerry Pournelle – The publisher of There Will Be War Vol X was kind enough to provide the entire anthology as part of the voter packet, which is not a trivial enterprise. Not only does each story have something to do with war (with a title like that, of course), but the commentary from the authors and others on the nature of modern war and the possible directions war could go in the future is in some cases more interesting than the fiction.

Sheila Williams – A sample issue of Asimov’s is provided in the voter packet, which, sadly, only served to remind me why I stopped buying Asimov’s some years back. I really do hope that my complete lack of interest in almost everything in this issue (apart from an intriguing and quite ironic anecdote about some of Damon Knight’s decisions that show the political issues in the field have been around for a long, long time) is just me, because the alternative isn’t good.

Overall, I’ve got to say that even though I don’t much like military SF as a subgenre, the mil-sf anthology is what sticks out here – although to be honest it’s difficult to make any kind of judgment about the editors themselves because there’s nothing like enough context. We don’t see the pieces they didn’t buy, and we don’t see what the pieces they did use looked like before the editors did their thing.

Best Editor – Long Form

I could repeat the last sentence above verbatim and it would be just as relevant to the long form editor category. There’s no point raving on, though, so I’ll just say that it’s even harder to judge this than short form. I’m making my call pretty much on the list of qualifying titles each editor has published, since it’s not really possible to do anything else. 1764 nominating ballots this year over last year’s 712 says that there are rather a lot of people who disagree with me on that topic – and a good thing, too. Life would be boring if everyone had the same opinion.

Vox Day – Vox Day being a nom-de-internet-and-other-things, I’m not sure that Mr Day is the correct form of address here, but it will have to do. At any rate, Mr Day has edited some impressive works and enabled quite a few other decent ones. I doubt that will have any impact on those who make warding signs to protect themselves from the Evil Lord of Evil and his Vile Faceless Minions, or on said minions who will no doubt be supporting their Dark Lord to the end. It’s a pity, because I’d rather see these things judged on their merits – as much as a category like this one can be.

Sheila E. Gilbert – About all I can say about Ms Gilbert’s list of qualifying works is that her tastes and mine are clearly a non-intersecting set. I don’t have any interest in reading the works and none are among pieces I considered buying.

Liz Gorinsky – I could probably repeat what I said about Ms Gilbert for Ms Gorinsky. I’m fully prepared to admit I’m not a typical reader, but when even the titles don’t catch my interest (yes, my own titles reek to high heaven and I know it) I’m not going to be a good person to judge on this category.

Jim Minz – Again… Although at least there were one or two books in the list that I thought might be interesting even though none got beyond that first pass.

Toni Weisskopf – And – alas – the same must be said here, unless one includes the entirety of Baen’s output (Ms Weisskopf is responsible for that by proxy, having hired the editors who do the works she doesn’t personally edit).

I think I’m going to have to sit out this category. There simply isn’t enough in it that’s caught my attention over the year for me to make a judgment, and I personally refuse to simply say “Oh, X is a good person and they’ve done a lot of good over the years”. That’s not what the award is for.

As always, read, and make your own decisions about which way you intend to vote. I am continuing to slog my way through the voter parcel and next week will take one for the team when I review the Short Story and Novelette categories. If I don’t go into meltdown anticipating the naturalization ceremony in two weeks time.

22 thoughts on “Hugo Category Highlights – The Finalists – Best Editor, Short Form and Long Form

  1. Editor is always going to be hard to judge; from the outside looking in, one can only really ask “Did they pick good stories?” and “Did they let a lot of typos through?” There’s no way to know if they put substantial work into the really good stories to make them good or if they just got them that way (or close to it). Maybe it would be good for editors to describe their selection criteria and some of their methodology and approach to editing.

    Things like “must be interesting enough to keep me from being distracted by Anne of Green Gables when my GF is watching it in the room while I read”, cuz seriously, if Anne Shirley wanting puffed sleeves is more exciting than your SF story…

      1. Nothing against Anne Shirley, but if you’re writing Sci-fi or Sword & Sorcery, it should probably be more riveting than daily life in Avonlea.

  2. A case can be made for ‘Mr. Vox Day’.

    I think I must have read enough Baen last year to have an opinion on Weisskopf, and I really enjoyed Somewither.

  3. John Joseph Adams – My complete lack of enthusiasm here could be because instead of getting to see at least one issue of Lightspeed as compiled by the editor, Mr Adams chose to provide a selection of his personal choices from the magazine.

    So it would be:

    Dear Mr. Adams:

    Thank you for your submission to the 2016 Hugo Nomination Package, but I think I’ll pass. It failed to grab my interest. Best of luck submitting this to another award.

    Oh, come on. We were all thinking it. 😉

  4. There is strong argument that Best Editor Long Form is exactly that…a chance to reward someone of long service doing a good job on a behind the scenes job that otherwise would never get rewarded… that not exactly how the award originated and how it has been awarded in the past? Past practice can become policy after a while, even if the written policy says something else…ask any HR manager!

    1. Then it should go to whomever has the best logrolling operation?

    2. Until the rules say otherwise, I’m going by the quality of their output as best I can.

    3. Best Editor Long was not originated as a method to award long service, but because the 2005 and 2006 Business Meetings felt there were sufficiently different skills involved in editing short works vs long works (in particular, that the jobs that magazine and anthology editors did was sufficiently different from what book editors did) that the two could, and should be considered separately.

      However, none of that changed the requirement for it being for the work done in a specific year, and that’s why, when putting together the Hugo packet, the Administrators request the editors to indicate what they’d done in the specific year being voted on, and not throughout their careers.

      Note that the minutes for the two meetings I reference are available at

      1. And note what I said, about past practice becoming official policy. I am well aware of the stated reasons for the award, just as I am aware of who has received the awards, and the appearance is that the award is indeed being treated as a body of work award.

        1. And, as we’ve discussed extensively in another thread, it’s hard to tell with a “people” award whether they’re being rewarded for this year’s work, or past practice. It’s often true that if, for example, an editor has been doing excellent work in past years, then they’re likely to do excellent work this year — and, without interviewing voters, how do you tell which is what they’re voting for?

          The only way you can tell is when a Hugo goes to somebody whose work in a particular year was nowhere near up to the standards of the competition. It’s clearly happened a few times (most clearly in some of the Retros, where people who would do really good work later in their careers won Hugos for work before they got good) — but definite “wrong” Hugos like that are pretty rare.

  5. Meanwhile, over at the Vile, Mike ’30 Hugos’ Glyer does not understand that Kate Paulk didn’t pick a slate based on her personal taste.

    “That’s pretty amazing, to think Paulk invested a whole year promoting the Sad Puppy cause while being bored by the output of nine of its ten Hugo-nominated editors.”

    Tell you what’s pretty amazing, Mr. 30 Hugos selective reading comprehension.

    Personally I’d list Toni Weisskopf at #1, based on the number of Baen books in my stacks. Like, nearly all of them.

    1. Wow. Just… wow. I said up front that SP4 was never going to be about my preferences, but about what as many people as wanted to contributed thought was worthy.

      What part of “doing precisely what I said I was going to do” does Mr Glyer not understand?

      1. All the words beginning with “doing” and ending with “do”.

      2. I find Mr. Glyer’s understanding of simple English to be more convenient than consistent.

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